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Volume 10 • Number 1 • Summer 2018

Richard Jarrette

You Stayed Away So Long
Is There Refuge Also In The Merciless?
The Center


You Stayed Away So Long

A gopher snake fat as my wrist poured out of its rock
wall to sunlight between rose and rosemary

like a Socrates come from somewhere else
bearing disturbing news. My kindred mind slides

toward coils so that all day on errands—the mail
good buys on wine and bosc pears—I question the air.

Emily Dickinson boarded the gondola of her silver
fairy moon heading to Baltimore but you Katya

stepped out onto our world an aborigine of the sky
in our time amused by reveries and bachelor cigars.

You hear the music before it arrives, said Neil Young.
I’d been in Argentina burning our tangos.


What could be more satisfying than a hero’s welcome
for bringing down the junta with a poem?

In the meantime a woman
wearing less than a yard of silk

Birds sing.

I’m flowing with cloud names—cumulus, cirrus
uncinus, noctilucent.

I lift my cup, forgiving debts.

Is There Refuge Also In The Merciless?

The seething firmament harrows my bones—
maybe the dreams of the dead are this life,
slender accident, fleeting grail.

I feel the sun and the wind on your eyes
as you brush your long hair above the fields
taking in the liquors of the day.

Yes you turned to the black wall
passed through on the thirtieth of July
to your seven night sisters the Pleiades.

I venture no more than a low whisper, afraid
I’ll wake the people of heaven
, said Li Po.

The Center

Starlight in the dead eye of a poor goldfinch,
tendrils of Milky Way unfurl in a wheeling dot—

do your hips turn its turning at that tango dance hall
on the other side of the Swan, Katya?

Winds and Pacific tides churn your scatters.
I find you in the empty drifting eye of a storm.

Richard Jarrette is author of Beso the Donkey (MSU Press 2010), (Green Writers Press 2015, The Beatitudes of Ekaterina (Green Writers Press 2017), and The Pond, with paintings by Susan Solomon (Green Writers Press, Fall 2018). He lives reclusively in the central coast region of California.